Direct Marketing Article
Bad Addresses - How They Can Hurt You
By Thad Ludwiczak
There are 2 major ways that mail delivery can be comprised with an incorrect
address. Here we will talk about the first way. This has to do with the
named individual not residing at the street address which is on the envelope
or postcard. At least 10% of the population moves each year and a bad
address never gets better. So after two years, you can expect 20% of the
addresses on your list to be dead weight if you have not corrected them.
Fortunately, the post office has a way of fixing these addresses. It is
called "NCOA" or National Change of Address. This is the most common way for
a mailer to make address corrections BEFORE the mail goes out. The "BEFORE"
is a critical piece because it means that almost none of your mail will be
thrown out or delayed in delivery.
The post office creates and maintains a list of every delivery point
(mailbox) in the United States. When someone moves they fill out a card and
leave it at the post office that lists their old and new address. That
information is eventually transmitted, usually within a couple of weeks, to
the master address list with hundreds of millions of United States
addresses. If someone skips town or dies, the letter carrier is charged with
updating that information and alerting his station manager of this.
Eventually the change will occur.
When a mailing comes in, the customer list is sent electronically. The
mailing service then compares this list via computer to the most updated
postal list as provided by the software owned by the mailing service. The
software vendor then finds the bad addresses and replaces them with the good
addresses. The mailing service should send a report back to its customer
listing the old and new addresses so that the customer can change their
Here's how not updating an address list can hurt you. One mailing service
found 525 bad addresses in its last 2 mailings.. If each piece was worth 40¢
in postage and printing, that amounts to more than $200 in waste. If these
were fund raising appeals and 5% would have made a gift of $25. Then, the
customer lost another $656 in lost revenue.
Anyway you look at it, on the front end or on the back end, bad addresses
will hurt you.
List Hygiene - Part 2
There is a second part to list hygiene which often gets overlooked. These
are the addresses that are often ignored by mail owners but the importance
is significant nevertheless.
Step back a moment and think about the address where you live. Let's say you
live at "123 Washington Ave S". If a mailing list with your name on it
contains the address "123 Wsh Ave", is this enough for the post office to
deliver it? Maybe not. What if your address on the list is "12300000
Washington Ave"? Would the computer program at the post office be smart
enough to know where you live?
These addresses are known as "Non CASS" addresses and every database
contains them. They are little thorns, and sometimes big thorns, in the
efficient delivery of mail. Unfortunately 80% of these types of addresses
never get delivered.
You pay a higher postage rate for these to go out AND the chances of having
them delivered are low. Bottom line is you are wasting money.
What is the solution?
You will have to do a little more research to get the address right, either
calling the addressee to verify the number on their address, double checking
the street spelling or correcting the zip code. The time will be well spent.
Remember - a bad address never gets better so you will repeat this error and
waste money every time you mail that list.
If your mail service does not routinely send you these non-CASS addresses,
ask for them.
Fortunately, there is a do-itself-yourself way to fix these. It is the
postal service website at www.usps.com. Click on the tab that says "Find a
Type in the address you have researched and changed. See if it goes through
without an error. If it is OK, you will see a message - "Here's the full
address, using standard abbreviations and formatting", followed by the
correct address as it should appear in your database and the way the postal
service wants to see it. If it fails, you will see an error message and you
can try again.
Address Corrections and fixing NON-CASS records are important elements for
insuring that your mailing will be as successful as possible.
Failure to pay attention to these details can minimize results and
About the Author:
Thad Ludwiczak represents Do-Good Mailing - An integrative communication
services business. They are a mailing service dedicated to helping small
businesses and nonprofits use the postal system so that their mail is
delivered quickly and at the lowest possible postage cost.